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Ketogenic low carb and gluten-free diets help epilepsy and Parkinson's disease

Going gluten-free? Steer clear of wheat.
Going gluten-free? Steer clear of wheat.
Photo by Michael Loccisano

Most people associate the word "diet" with weight loss. But a growing number of physicians are using specialized diets such as ketogenic low carb plans as alternative treatments for conditions ranging from diabetes to dementia to depression. Now a new case study shows that gluten-free diets can make a dramatic difference in treating Parkinson’s disease, reported the Epoch Times on August 15.

After eliminating all forms of gluten from his diet for three months, a 75-year-old patient with Parkinson's disease made a dramatic recovery. Published in the Journal of Neurology, the study discussed the neurological symptoms linked frequently to celiac disease.

Most people associate celiac disease with symptoms specific to the gastrointestinal system. But other researchers have noted that a wide range of symptoms may result from this condition. As a result, it is possible that gluten sensitivity may be related to Parkinson's disease, and more research needs to be conducted.

Dr. David Perlmutter emphasized in his book "Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar–Your Brain’s Silent Killers" that the dangers of eating gluten and grains in general go beyond your weight. He postulates that by eliminating all grains and sugar while shifting to a high fat low carb diet, the percentage of people in the world with conditions such as type 2 diabetes, dementia and metabolic syndrome could be dramatically reduced.

In another example of using food as medicine, high fat low carb ketogenic diets increasingly are being used to control seizures in epilepsy patients. An estimated 30 to 40 percent of patients with epilepsy cannot control their seizures with medication, and ketogenic diets can make a significant difference, reported Medscape on August 15.

A new study indicated that although ketogenic diets typically are used for children with epilepsy, they also can help adults. The study participants had tried either prescription medication, surgery or vagus nerve stimulators prior to the ketogenic diet.

More than 20 percent of the patients used the traditional ketogenic diet, while the rest used a modified Atkins diet that included medium-chain triglyceride supplements. The improvements were dramatic.

In addition to reducing the number and severity of seizures, 65 percent of patients felt "more alert or brighter," while 35 percent had "more energy." Many of the patients also had shorter seizures when they occurred.

Parents who have children with epilepsy also have found that they can control their seizures significantly when they carefully monitor their diets. Although the high fat low carb ketogenic diet designed for epilepsy can be challenging, the improvement often is life-changing.

In an exclusive interview, health activist and fitness trainer Sam Feltham noted that many parents must battle to get resources and guidance when it comes to ketogenic diets for their children. He recently featured Emma Williams on his podcast to discuss her son Matthew's background.

Matthew struggled for years with seizures and experienced brain damage before a ketogenic diet saved his life. Emma has created a non-profit organization to help other families and patients learn about ketogenic dietary therapies. They also have a treatment center and are evaluating the potential of ketogenic dietary therapies for brain cancer.

In another use of a ketogenic diet for treating disease, Jack Osbourne has discussed using a Paleo diet based on the high fat low carb ketogenic model for MS. His diet is designed based on the Wahls Protocol, created by physician Terry Wahls to treat her own MS.

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